Directed by Clint Eastwood.
Right from the get-go it’s evident that we are dealing with an authentic story rich in Mafioso undertones. In the opening minutes we meet Robert “Bobby Bacala” Baccalieri, Jr., played by Steve Schirripa as Vito the barber, who is the boss to Frankie Valli (John Lloyd Young). Young Frankie – an up and coming harirdresser is tasked with giving his first shave to a very important customer – Gyp DeCarlo a man with definite mob links.
Frankie’s chum Tommy is played by Vincent Piazza who also appeared in The Sopranos.
Before too long we catch a glimpse of Artie Bucco’s wife Charmaine (Kathrine Narducci) who in Jersey Boys has the role of Valli’s mother Mary Rinaldi.
I swear I spotted Louis Lombardi in there too, but he’s not credited.
These are minor details, but it’s part of the rich tapestry that Clint Eastwood has created in his 33rd feature film.
Woven into this story of four boys from the wrong side of the tracks in New Jersey in the 1950’s and 60’s is spot on art direction, the music of the Four Seasons, the fashion and the cultural values of the time.
Told primarily through the eyes of the main protagonists – front man Frankie Valli and chief songwriter Bob Gaudio, along with Tommy DeVito who played a key role in forming and managing the group until his departure in April 1970, it’s a musical biopic rich in detail and charged with electricity.
The energy between the group members is dangerous, and this tension underpins the entire film in an engrossing way.
With one of the wittiest scripts of the year, along with one that’s dripping in sentimentality and a celebration of nostalgia, there are laughs and tears throughout the entire film.
There’s also some great snippets of trivia revealed all the way through the movie. For instance Joe Pesci, yes THE Joe Pesci, was instrumental in Bob joining the group.
So many memorable moments to look out for including Walken’s tough guy DeCarlo crying as they perform a song for his mother, Clint Eastwood in a an episode of Rawhide on TV just before it’s switched off, learning that a “Jersey Contract” is a handshake agreement, there;s the Brill building, a Liberace gag, a piece about “Y” being a bullshit letter, so young Frankie should end his newfound surname with an “I” instead.
The film’s greatest scene comes when the members are forced to confront some longstanding issues that have never been addressed. The scene builds and builds to a climactic pay-off and the plot takes a different turn, focusing more on the personal and professional life of Frankie Valli.
One of Eastwood’s better efforts. Hugely enjoyable and full of joy. 4 Stars.